loin-clothed club is as exclusive as any, with just 20 men playing Tarzan
over the course of 51 films.
rejoiced in the jungle hero Friday, with the Fort Collins Ramada Inn playing
host to the annual Tarzan national convention. The convention runs through
today. But if you go, call it a Dum Dum -- as Tarzan did when he called
apes together for meetings.
the Tarzan fraternity was more about great pecs than acting prowess, you'll
hear no apologies from Denny Miller. As the star of the 1959 "Tarzan
the Apeman," his dialogue was ... chimp-like? The main line was pronounced
oongowa, Miller said -- jungle-speak for everything from "stop" and "go"
to "there's a zebra." "It was like being in a circus," said Miller, sitting
behind a table heaped with Tarzan books and memorabilia. "Go ride that
elephant. Play with that chimpanzee. Jump off that limb into the pond."
Shakespeare, perhaps, but there were benefits. Like Jane. "That wasn't
too bad. There have been a lot of pretty ones," Miller said, pointing out
a calendar with images of a semi-clad Lyndie
(sic) Denier. She played
Jane in the 1990s Tarzan television series.
you might squint yourself blind trying to see the 24-year-old Miller of
then in the 70-year-old Miller of now. He's still a giant of a man, maybe
6 foot 4, but his waves of blond hair have gone gray. And a thick, silver
beard covers his face. The look suits the role for which he is now
perhaps best known: the Gorton's Fisherman. From chimps to shrimps,
I call it," Miller said. "The kids love me. If I go to a grocery
store with a yellow slicker on, they surround me like I'm Santa Claus."
Tarzan, the primary focus of this year's convention is a tribute
to Glenn Morris, the former Colorado State University athletic standout
and Olympic gold medallist. Two years after winning the decathlon
at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Morris starred in "Tarzan's Revenge."
Morris had steel blue eyes and when he looked at you, he could look right
through you," said Jim Larson, a memorabilia vendor who has collected
more than 6,000 autographs. "If he were to walk in this room right now,
all the eyes would go to him." Larson, 78, served with Morris in the U.S.
Navy during World War II. While celebrated for his athletic and film
success, Morris never recovered from what he saw in battle. Tormented by
post-traumatic stress disorder, Morris died in military hospital
in 1974. He was 62. "I can't say anything bad about him," Larson
said. "He was a lonely man."
wares were on display Friday, though much of it -- an autographed
picture of Christie Brinkley? -- seemed out of place at a Tarzan convention.
The crowd was sparse, though vendors insisted that more will be on
hand today. Most of the attendees were perusing vintage Tarzan movie posters,
books and other materials, as well as novels by Tarzan author Edgar
Arnold, 79, was among the collectors, scanning the items with his wife
in tow. Arnold has a collection of 70-plus Tarzan novels and one
play, and noted that Tarzan memorabilia is big business. A mint condition
copy of the 1914 "Tarzan of the Apes" could fetch $25,000.
and his wife, Bea, live in St. Louis, but attend the national Tarzan
convention every year. Bea, 76, isn't as huge a Tarzan fan. But when you
get married, she explained, your husband's hobby can become your
own. "I'm very fortunate," Gene said. "She's a dear. She puts up with this."
Added Bea, "My love is clothes and his is books. It's as simple as that."